As I sat on the curbside in downtown Portland, frantically filling out a (seemingly) simple retail application, I could only wonder if I'd made a horrible mistake.
Scrambling to the parking meter, I shuffled through my over sized duffel "purse" searching for my missing in action debit card. I had exactly 5 minutes to get to my interview at Anthropologie on time, as well as avoid a parking ticket. Given the oxford heels on my feet...as well as the 6 blocks I had to walk...it would seem the gods were not on my side.
Why all this rush over a department store? Well, I'm jobless. I recently walked away from my well paying Nanny position to pursue some dreams I've stuffed away in drawers far too long. Unfortunately, aside from the Nanny profession I find myself lacking the skills to glide into a new career path. And thus, enter the world of retail until I can figure something else out. After all, going back to school costs money...even after you've finished. Bills are here to stay and resistance is futile. So put your game face on (as my brothers would say).
In my casual ignorance of the current job market, I assumed Anthropologie would be an easy group interview. Retail is really all about showing up on time, being polite to customers and learning how to sell overpriced unflattering clothing to women...right? Right.
No so, mon cheri.
Followed by a jog through the pearl district I found myself on a brown couch next to a paralegal, former architect and textiles/fibers business owner. All these fine women had found themselves suddenly jobless, and ready to rumble. Seated with their meticulously crafted resumes in hand, anxiously awaiting the handsome shabby chic adorned man set to interview us, I could see them mentally practicing their "bit". Drive, ethic and where they saw themselves in two years scribbled across the reflections in their pupils, like the stamp of a typewriter on glass.
Holy Hell..I'm sunk.
What went on next was a series of over indulgent company questions, the kind that assume you were born wanting to work for minimum wage at Anthropologie. That you've always longed, more than ANYTHING to help far richer women than yourself find the perfect outfit while you dawn the latest Target sale item.
Of course I faked my through it as best as I was able, claiming to be personable, creative and reliable...and most of all, EXTREMELY interested in Anthropologie for my future. I even managed to whip out a few clever remarks such as,
"But Hey, I'm looking forward to being able to pull size two off the racks for a customer, since it isn't likely I'd be that size anytime soon"
"I'm a great multi-tasker, I mean managing a whole household staff and changing sheets aint easy with a 18 month old on your hip."
not to mention
"I'm sorry sir, I didn't catch the question with that drill in the background." (literally right behind my head)
Remarkably, these comments didn't seem to ring true to this hip downtown group. (a sudden visual of skinny jeans manager man hooking an anvil to my ankles...watching contently as I slowly sink to the bottom of the ocean)
To end our grand time together, the Anthropologie managers decided to give us a challenge, similar to a reality show on Lifetime. We had exactly 5 minutes to run around the store putting together one chic outfit for a modern girl of Portland, OR. We would then present it to the group including any form of "sales" speech necessary.
Here's what I grabbed: (not too shabby, though maybe a little safe)
This may have been the light at the end of the tunnel. After my fumblings regarding my career opportunities in fashion, I managed to slightly impress our lovely managers with a schpeal that went something like,
"Women want to look classic and slim...not over ruffled like a pin cushion. Pencil skirts and jackets look great on EVERYONE, so long as somebody (being me?) can help find the right fit and style representation."
As I wiped the sweat from my brow and meandered around the store placing the items back on their racks, I felt humbled. I'd been put in my place by the world of customer service and fitting rooms.
Stretching out my hand towards the managers to thank them, I was met with...
"Thanks so much for coming in everyone. We'll call you when the holidays pick up. Until then, it's mostly on call work, if even that."
Exiting Anthro's oversized wooden doors, I kicked off my oxford heels and began jogging back down couch street in an attempt to catch the parking meter before it expired.
The bright side? I bought a really cute pair of earrings for $9.95.